Crispy Napoleon of Apples and Caramel Sauce
Towering stacks of crisp nutty phyllo triangles and cinnamon-scented apples are anchored in warm caramel sauce. An added touch is the inclusion of Port-marinated dried cherries or raisins in the apple filling. The cherries or raisins marinate for 24 hours; begin a day ahead.
- Cherries - 1 cup, dried (alt raisins)
- Port Wine - 1/4 cup
- Phyllo Triangles
- Phyllo Dough - 4 sheets, fresh or thawed
- Pecans - 1/2 cup, chopped
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Clarified Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Golden Russet apples - 4 (alt. similar old-fashioned apples)
- Sugar - 1 tablespoon
- Cinnamon - 1 teaspoon, ground
- Nutmeg - 1/8 teaspoon, ground
- Lemon Juice - 1/2 lemon
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Caramel Sauce
- Sugar - 3/4 cup
- Water - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup
- Confectioner’s sugar - For dusting
- Mint - 4 small sprigs
To prepare the cherries or raisins: If using cherries, cut in half. Place the raisins or cherries in a non-aluminum bowl with the wine, cover with plastic wrap, and marinate overnight.
To prepare the phyllo triangles: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. On a work surface, unfold a sheet of phyllo and brush with butter; sprinkle with pecans and sugar. Repeat to make four layers, finishing the top layer with butter and sugar only. Cut the phyllo into triangles: cut the sheet in half lengthwise, then cut the each strip into four pieces. Cut each of these squares in half diagonally to form triangles. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. The triangles may be made ahead of time and kept in a cool dry place.
To make the caramel: In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a simmer over medium heat, swirling occasionally; do not stir. Cover, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the liquid gives off large, thick bubbles. Uncover and cook, swirling the syrup, until it turns golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in the butter with a wooden spoon. Add the cream, stirring constantly. Return the pan to low heat and stir constantly until any lumps have melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and keep warm. The caramel may be made ahead of time and stored in a glass jar, then rewarmed for service.
To prepare the apples: Core the apples and peel. Cut the apples in half, then cut into 1/8-inch-thick vertical slices. Toss in a bowl with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, soaked cherries or raisins, and lemon juice. Let stand for 15 minutes. Melt the butter in a medium saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat and saute the apples until softened and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
To serve: Pool caramel sauce in each dessert plate. Dust the phyllo triangles with confectioner’s sugar. Place a triangle in the caramel on one dish. Spoon a few apples on top of the triangle. Place another triangle on top, pointing one quarter turn from the bottom triangle. Spoon on more apples. Place a third triangle on top, pointing one quarter turn from the one under it. Spoon on a few more apples, then top with a final triangle, pointing one quarter turn from the one under it. Built the stack as high as possible. Dust the top triangle and the plate with confectioner’s sugar. Garnish the top triangle with a sprig of mint.